Did you know that the late great former Mayor of Carleton Place Brian Costello’s father and mother once were the caretakers of the town hall and lived in a former basement apartment?
When Brian’s children came to visit their grandparents thought they lived in the biggest house in Carleton Place.
Frank and Gertie Costello were on duty 7 days a week 24 hours a day just in case of a fire call. The caretaker’s role included the fire dispatcher’s job.
On some nights the Costellos could hear the drunks who sometimes inhabited the the cells behind the bedroom walls and the police would come and go at all hours.
One Christmas his Frank Costello felt sorry for prisoners who were away from their families and invited them from their cells to share in the season of a fine meal at the Costellos.
When Gertie Costello would bake– she would make two pies: one for the family and another for the police and the prisoners.
When Ray McIsaac began as police chief in 1953 the police station consisted of two desks in a room sandwiched between the library and the fire hall, with cells for prisoners downstairs. The council chambers doubled as the courtroom and on Thursday morning court was in session.
The Fireman’s Ball was held in the town hall auditorium. Held the last Friday in January the event attracted 1,100 to 1,200 people and the ball would not end until the wee hours of the morning.
The CFRA Happy Wanderers also performed every Saturday night in the auditorium for 4-5 years. Attracting 600-800 people the whole police force would be working which was 4 men.
Once in awhile the police would bring in someone for questioning and people in the library would try and eavesdrop. The late great Barbara Walsh used to go up to them and tap them on the shoulder and tell them to move along. When Walsh started in 1960 she was one of only two women in the building along with the clerk’s assistant Isobel Shail. Thing have changed but —- do you know there have been only 7 women elected to council/mayor since 1905? The building was full of men and they had a smoking room set aside across from the clerks office where they could discuss matters during breaks.
The library moved out in 1970 to the present library on Beckwith Street. The Fire Department also was in the same building until the move to Coleman Street in 1997. The town hall used to be jammed with trucks and equipment and used to be crammed pretty tight. They used to put the old ladders through the old windows at the back from time to time. All this from a former wee house sitting on a piece of land once owned by William Morphy in 1820.
When I was a kid the town hall including the auditorium was wide open. You could go in and discover stuff!. The balcony was a great place to go, or behind the stage which was pretty much unused spaced sort of like the attic in an old house. You could however make your way to the tower! Fun times! The other thing I remember about the auditorium is the annual Fireman’s Ball. I was just a kid but I remember being there and hanging around in front of the stage listening to some country band playing “On the wings of a snow white dove”. I hated country!